Food can heal, but its role in nourishing the body and mind has been lost among an avalanche of fads and quackery. It’s time to prescribe a dose of sensible eating.
Each morning, after a strict overnight fast, Paula Wolfert drinks a cup-and-a-half of hot water with lemon, followed by a “bulletproof coffee” made from unsalted butter and coconut oil. At 11am, she makes her “gritty drink” – a sludge of greens, nuts, avocado and kefir. Finally, for lunch, she eats something like oven-steamed fish and vegetables. Wolfert eats no bread and hasn’t had a dessert in years.
Strangely enough, there’s nothing so unusual now about how Wolfert eats. Plenty of twentysomething wellness gurus follow a similar regime, all turmeric shots and energy balls. The difference is that Wolfert is 78 and an American cookbook author famous for her books on Morocco. She was once the queen of rich, meaty tagines and couscous. As she told the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme (in an award-winning episode, Diet and Dementia), Wolfert sacrificed the food she loved when she was diagnosed with dementia in 2012, because she wanted to do anything she could to stop her condition getting worse. As her memory palpably declined, food seemed like one of the few variables she could control. Wolfert feels that following her strict regime has slowed the onset of her dementia symptoms and made her “incredibly healthy”.